A document I missed, a twofold annoyance, and a retraction

Cardinal Arinze

A document I missed

Many thanks to TD who emailed me to point out that the question of uniformity of posture after Holy Communion has actually been dealt with by the Congregation for Divine Worship. Cardinal George, O.M.I., Chairman of the US Bishops Committee on the Liturgy, sent a Dubium to the CDW and received a response from the Prefect, Cardinal Arinze. Here is the text, courtesy of EWTN:
5 June 2003

Prot. n. 855/03/L

Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, to forbid this practice?

Responsum: Negative, et ad mentem. The mens is that that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of the Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such  a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.

Francis Cardinal Arinze
The other day I wrote about the instruction that is given in some places, for all the members of the congregation to remain standing after Holy Communion until everyone has received - and therefore to forbid people from kneeling or sitting.

It is important to note that the above response is not simply an instruction for the Church in the USA, but gives the mens (lit. "mind" or better, "thinking" or "reasoning") of the Holy See concerning the matter. This reasoning is that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal does not intend to impose a rigid uniformity of posture such that people who want to sit or kneel would not be free to do so.

A twofold annoyance

I am annoyed for two reasons.

1. I should have either known or found out about this ruling. I didn't. So I made a mistake and that is always annoying, but it is good for humility.

2. Given this ruling and explanation, no Bishop should forbid his people from kneeling after Holy Communion or send liturgical experts to the parishes to give instructions to people to observe what the CDW calls a "rigid uniformity." It is annoying at a deeper level that some Bishops still do this.

The bottom line, then, is that if you are ordered by your parish priest, roaming liturgical expert, or Bishop, to stand after Holy Communion until everyone else has received, you do not have to obey the instruction because they do not have the authority to override the Congregation for Divine Worship.

A Retraction

In my post 3 (slightly ranty) suggestions for when you are ordered to stand until everyone has received Holy Communion I said the following:
Must a lay person obey such an instruction? Reluctantly, I suppose we must concede that the Bishop or parish priest does have the authority to instruct people as to their bodily posture at the modern rite of Mass, since the General Instruction of the Roman Missal provides for such instruction.
I retract that statement. I should have said the following:
Must a lay person obey such an instruction? No. the Bishop or parish priest does not have the authority to forbid people from kneeling or sitting after Holy Communion since the Holy See has specifically responded to a Dubium on the question, stating that this is not the intention of n.43 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
I have now updated the post.

The question arose on Twitter in a general thread on obedience which then focussed on this question. The example given was from Canada. Therefore it is relevant also to reference a post by Vox Cantoris in 2012: Apostolic Nuncio to Canada on Kneeling after Communion. The blog author wrote to the Apostolic Nuncio and received a reply (which can be seen in the article) referring him to the Dubium and response quoted above.

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